Currently, no major web browser supports Flash. There’s a good reason for that: Flash is a security nightmare. In fact, it was intentionally deprecated in favor of HTML5 multimedia delivery. What led to Flash’s downfall and why can’t you use it anymore?
I’m Aaron and I remember when Flash games and videos were cool. I’ve been working with and around technology for the better part of 20 years–longer if you count hobbyist tinkering!
Let’s discuss why Flash went away and why, even if you could view Flash content, you likely still wouldn’t be able to.
Table of Contents
- Flash came to prominence as a multimedia delivery platform in the 1990s and early 2000s.
- Flash’s security and usability issues were its downfalls.
- Major Flash platforms abandoned the use of Flash in favor of HTML5 and Apple refused to allow Flash on its iOS devices.
- Consequently, most web multimedia content transitioned to HTML5 and Flash officially reached the end of support on December 31, 2020.
A Brief History of Flash
Adobe Flash was a popular media content delivery format from the late 1990s to the 2010s. It was so popular, at one point, that Flash accounted for most video content displayed on the web.
Flash paved the way not only for video content, but interactive video content. It was straightforward to use for both content development and hosting. Numerous services, including YouTube, relied on Flash for content delivery.
Flash had its issues, though. It was relatively resource-heavy, which influenced later decisions about its use. While that wasn’t an issue with desktop computers, it was an issue with battery-powered mobile devices.
Flash also had a slew of security issues. These security issues were thanks to both its popularity and how it functioned. It provided many critical vulnerabilities like allowing remote code execution, cross-site scripting, and overflow attacks.
In sum, those vulnerabilities allowed the deployment of malware via Flash content, hijacking of browsing sessions, and crippling endpoint performance.
2007 was the beginning of the end for Flash. The iPhone was released and didn’t support Flash. The reasons were numerous: security issues, performance difficulties, and Apple’s closed app ecosystem.
In 2010, the iPad was released and Steve Jobs famously published his open letter Thoughts on Flash where he outlined why Apple’s devices would not support Flash. By that time, HTML5 was more widely used and had been adopted ubiquitously across the web.
Google followed suit when it dropped YouTube support for Flash and didn’t include Flash functionality in its Android operating system.
The decision not to support Flash bolstered use of the more secure and efficient HTML5. Throughout the 2010s, websites transitioned their multimedia content from Flash to HTML5.
In 2017, Adobe announced it would deprecate Flash on December 31, 2020. Since then, no new versions of Flash have been published and most major browsers no longer support it.
What if I Found a Browser that Supports Flash?
Where would you use it? The transition from Flash to HTML5 has been more than a decade in the making. Flash hasn’t been available at all in major modern browsers for almost two years.
Most content creators and aggregators that hosted Flash no longer do so. Unless you had a ready source of flash content, you’d have difficulty finding a site that still hosts Flash content. It’s not impossible, but it’s increasingly difficult to find.
Since Flash hasn’t been supported for years, it poses an even more significant security threat than it did previously. All the issues that existed at the end of support persist. They’ve been studied ad nauseum and likely exploited. If you execute Flash content, you may be exposing yourself to significant risk of malware.
Which Browsers Still Support Flash?
Here are some browsers that still support Flash:
- Internet Explorer – this browser is also no longer supported by Microsoft as of February 2023, so will have additional security issues in addition to Flash support
- Puffin browser
You can also still emulate a flash player via Flashpoint or Ruffle Emulator.
Does Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Opera Support Flash?
No. As of December 31, 2020, none of those browsers support Flash. Between 2017 and 2020 Flash was disabled by default and could still be enabled through browser settings. Since 2020, those browsers don’t allow displaying Flash content at all.
In the span of a decade, Flash became the most popular video content delivery platform in the world. In the next decade, it became obsolete. Performance and security issues coupled with the rise of HTML5 and lack of support in mobile devices spelled the end for Flash.
While you can find a browser that supports Flash, you’re unlikely to find Flash content and may be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
Let us know about some of your favorite Flash content in the comments!